Thursday, 30 July 2015

A walk amongst the Black & Whites. Mount Pleasant and onwards......

Mount Pleasant, Malcolm Rd, Mount Rosie to Swiss Cottage

Hidden behind the impressive Singapore Polo club and surrounded by Bukit Brown Cemetery on one side and the PIE (Pan Island Expressway) I hadn't explored this area home to the Black and Whites of Mount Pleasant until a couple of months ago, when I decided to bring a friend along for a morning walk. A walk that saw us visit more of Singapore's Black and Whites and discover a Chinese cemetery along the way!

Mount Pleasant

The houses in this estate are large, substantial homes built to house the top ranking political chief inspectors and high court judges who needed large homes to reflect their stature in the community. They were built on crown land in the housing boom after the first World War, although one grand house in Thomas Walk was built in 1900 to house a police inspector general. Built north of Bukit Timah Rd these new estates were for government officials such as police, doctors, teachers and judges, built mostly between 1920-30. 

Mount Pleasants roads are surrounded my mature trees on yes, you've guessed it a mount, a hill. As mentioned many were police officials, it made sense to house them here as it was close by the Police Academy at the bottom of the hill by the grand Polo Club. 

This is reminiscent of the long houses of Devon and the south of England I think 

During the Japanese Occupation many homes were left empty with several fires taking place, others were used to home the 'comfort women' and others were used by the feared Kempeitai. Many deaths and tortures are reported to have taken place within these walls. I have heard and was also warned by a local friend not to go after dark as the ghosts of these victims still frequent the area. It's a good job I was visiting throughout the day! Even many taxi drivers will not go there during the night, although it is also stated that it's not only the Kempeitai victims that haunt the area but that of an evil female spirit that that lives in the nearby cemetery 

Mount Pleasant Cemetery

As I walked through Mount Pleasant estate 2 small lanes were spied off to the left, with glimpses of Chinese graves, of course it needing investigating! One with a barrier stopping cars accessing with a empty disused guard hut. Why the cemetery needs to be guarded I don't know!

This cemetery was once part of the larger Bukit Brown cemetery and was opened in 1922 before it was separated by the PIE cutting it off. 

Wandering along the tracks some graves were tended but many were overgrown and swamped by the vegetation. It felt very forgotten but later we came upon a 'home' of a undertaker and monumental mason 

The undertaker and stone masons abode. Certainly no worries about noisy neighbors unless you believe the ghost stories

Legend has it that the area was once a Javanese kampong where the inhabitants practised black magic long before it became a cemetery. Another reason why taxi drivers and locals will not come to Mount Pleasant after dark is that the area is reported to be home to 'pontianaks' evil banshee, vampire-like, female spirits. I have to say if I had a choice of bumping into a ghost of a departed soul or that of a Pontianak, I would chose the first! 

Not only Chinese religion apparent in this cemetery

We retraced our steps heading out of this quiet secluded cemetery, back onto the road. From here we crossed the PIE, an experience in itself as the traffic was constant, climbing up through Malcolm Park into Malcolm Road

Malcolm Road

Here is another estate built for the high ranking civil servants of the colonial government, only now separated from Mount Pleasant by the Expressway. Again most of these grand homes were built around 1925 on this small hill. In fact the contours of the land were used to almost build the homes into. Many are built on pillars. The front of the 1st storey being raised, but the back being at ground level. These homes are still in the colonial style but now with touches of the more modern, with simpler, cleaner lines in keeping with the 1920s era. 

A more Art Deco house than many of the others

Came across a few of these old electrical boxes

These government homes are classified as Class III and were designed by the government architect H A Stallwood, who held this position from 1922-8. 

Exiting and leaving behind these majestic houses we walked through into Mount Rosie

Mount Rosie

Mount Rosie sounds idyllic, the homes here are a collection of various designs from different eras. Mount Rosie is named after a large bungalow that was built on top of the hill in the 1880s for Theodore Heinrich Sohst, a German trader. This country estate of his was named after his wife Rosie de Souza. The bungalow was after his death leased to various people, and to the War Office in the 1920s and renamed Flagstaff House. 

The home which to me has to be the 'stand out' Black and White, is an enormous colonial bungalow. It was built the same time as those in Malcolm Road in the 1920s. Traditional in design but with modern Art Deco features. The upper levels are Tudoresque sitting on pillared columns below. The architect was the same as those of Malcolm Road, H A Stallwood. Stallwood also designed Fort Canning in 1918. This home in Mount Rosie is in the typical long narrow style and is set in a secluded hollow, surrounded by mature trees. Sadly however it looked empty on my visit, perhaps it is just too large, or more likely too expensive to rent. 

No 24. This gas to be favourite, although sadly empty now

From here it's just s short stroll through the interestingly named Goldhill to...

Look closely at this walk, it appears there were once arches or doorways in through it. I wonder what they were for or where they went?

Swiss Cottage Estate

So little could I find about this tiny cluster of colonial homes sitting just a stones through away from Dunearn Rd, if anyone has any information about them I would love to here from you! I do however know they were built for colonels and high ranking officers of the British Army, with many have servants quarters at the rear and that is all I could find out!

This was the final stop on the days exploring. Time to catch a bus home and relax :)

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